The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis is a Catholic cathedral located in St. Louis, Missouri, just off Interstate 64 on Lindell Boulevard. With a Romanesque exterior and Byzantine interior, it is an awesome structure, set like a massive emerald in an otherwise bland part of the city.

The Basilica's parish originated in 1896 when Reverend James McCaffrey blessed the Cathedral Chapel, located on the same site as the current building. In 1907, construction began on the Basilica, and in 1908 the cornerstone was laid. The first Mass was celebrated in the new structure in 1914, and the original 1896 chapel was demolished. In 1926, it was officially consecrated.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about the Basilica are the mosaics. Gradually added over time and finally completed in 1988, the mosaics cover an area of over 83,000 ft2. This makes the collection the largest in the world with over 41 million pieces of glass and 7,000 colors composing it. Twenty artists have been involved in the project since work on it started in 1912.

Words cannot describe the beauty of the place, but I will attempt to describe a few parts out of dozens of scenes. Rising over 400 feet from the marbled floor, the main dome is a deep crimson and has four panels showing the Holy Trinity, Ezechiel the Prophet, the woman of the Apocalypse, and Elias ascending to heaven. The narthex shows images of Saint Louis IX, King of France from 1214-1270, the cathedral's and the city's patron saint and is largely brilliant gold. The sanctuary dome, rising above the altar, pictures The Twelve Apostles set against a turquoise background. Other scenes depict not only other scenes from the Old and New Testaments, but also scenes of the development of the Catholic Church in North America, the American West in particular. It's almost funny to see, next to cherubs and saints, images of tepees and steamboats.

Tours are available daily. If you are in St. Louis, don't miss it.

Source: http://www.cathedralstl.org and various pamphlets I obtained during a recent visit

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